Another senior police officer, Superintendent Naboth Nyachega, and two Harare City Council officials — human resources director and former housing director Matthew Marara and housing assistant Aaron Taerera — were arrested yesterday on allegations of abuse of office and bribery connected with the earlier sale of stands worth US$1 million in Kuwadzana.
This brings the total arrested so far this week over the land sale, the release of suspects involved in the original sale and a suspected pay off of Westlea stands, to eight: four police officers, three council officials and the chief public prosecutor at Harare Magistrates Court.
A manhunt has been launched for a fourth council official, Charles Sigauke, who was employed as senior clerical officer at Marlborough District Offices who has since gone into hiding.
A fifth police officer has also disappeared.
The latest arrests follow the arrest of deputy director for the police CID commercial crimes unit Assistant Commissioner Obeylaw Moyo, chief public prosecutor Clement Chimbare, and two junior police officers on Wednesday.
Asst Comm Moyo, Chimbare and the three junior police officers were allegedly paid off for not arresting or not charging suspected kingpins in the scam by being allocated stands in the new middle-income Harare suburb of Westlea using waiting list numbers already given to others.
On Thursday night, City of Harare director of housing Admore Nhekairo was arrested in connection with the case, and is due to appear in court today with Supt Nyachega and the latest two council officials arrested. Nhekairo allegedly approved the allocation of the Westlea stands. Nyachega, who is also attached to the CID commercial crimes unit, was arrested by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) while the council officials, including Nhekairo, were picked up by the police in conjunction with the Special Anti-Corruption Unit (SACU) in the Office of the President and Cabinet.
Recently, Marara and 13 other employees were suspended by council to allow investigations into corruption allegations.
Zacc spokesperson Commissioner John Makamure yesterday confirmed the arrest of Nyachega and said investigations were still in progress.
“Naboth Nyachega, a superintendent with the ZRP will appear in court tomorrow (today). He is facing the same charges as others,” he said.
Meanwhile, SACU head Mr Thabani Mpofu confirmed the arrest of the city council officials and said they would also appear in court today.
“I can confirm that Nhekairo and others have been arrested. We are now waiting for all the documents from the police so that they will appear in court tomorrow. All I can say now is that it’s an ongoing investigation,” he said.
Asst Comm Moyo (47) and chief public prosecutor Chimbare (47) were arrested on Wednesday and spent the night in police cells with two junior police officers, Detective Assistant Inspector Claudious Majonga (37) and Detective Constable Aaron Karuru (32).
The four appeared before Harare Magistrate Mr Ngoni Nduna facing charges of criminal abuse of office as public officers or bribery as defined in the codified criminal law. They were remanded out of custody to August 17 on $3 000 bail each with the usual reporting, residence and passport surrender conditions.
Mr Charles Muchemwa prosecuted.
Allegations are that sometime in September last year, Harare municipality through Town Clerk Engineer Hosiah Chisango reported a case of suspected fraud in which Edgar Dzehonye, Mathew Marara, Rudo Chigocha, Believer Mpawaenda and Margeth Geroge were the accused persons.
The fraud arose from the alleged creation and sale of 150 stands corruptly sold by Dzehonye, Marara and other accomplices in Kuwadzana 3, 4, and 5 to home-seekers without the knowledge or approval of council.
The investigations into the fraud allegedly stalled when some of those arrested were released before appearing in court. The suspicion that there were underlying reasons for the decision that any prosecution must proceed by way of summons is built around the allegedly irregular allocation of the stands to those in the police investigating team and the chief prosecutor.